By THE NATION
Los Angeles County urban search and rescue worker searches a pile of debris for victims of a mudslide on January 11, 2018 in Montecito, California. // AFP PHOTO
A SIX-YEAR-OLD Thai boy is confirmed to be among the latest fatalities from powerful mudslides in Southern California that have destroyed homes in a region already pummelled by massive wildfires.
The boy’s father and younger sister are still missing.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bussadee Santipitak yesterday said: “The Consulate Office [in Los Angeles] checked the list of 17 victims released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and found a name that could possibly be that of a Thai. The name was then compared with our documents and it was confirmed that he is a Thai,” she said.
Victim Peerawat Sutthithepn, 6, was born in Khon Kaen province, Bussadee said.
The Consular Office is trying to contact his relatives and friends to offer assistance. Information from the victim’s relatives in Thailand suggest Peerawat’s mother is safe but his father and his three-year-old sister are still missing, she said.
Agence France Presse reported that authorities in California were on Thursday still searching for eight missing people. It is not yet clear whether the number included Peerawat’s father and sister.
Heavy rain on Tuesday, which followed 10 months of drought, sent sticky mud and debris flowing from the hills into Montecito and other towns in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles.
“It was a scary night,” said local resident Jane Barret. One of her doctors, the leader of her son’s scout group |and an old neighbour are among the dead.
She said “it will take a lot of time” to get over the natural disasters that have struck the area over the past two months.
Terrifying wildfires forced people to evacuate in December – with the mudslides striking just two weeks later.
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